Rutgers Spycam Defendant Enters Program
A former Rutgers student charged in a webcam-spying case linked to another student’s suicide has entered a pretrial intervention program that could keep her from getting a criminal record if she meets certain conditions - including cooperating with the prosecution of the more serious charges against the other defendant in the case.
Molly Wei, a 19-year-old from West Windsor, must also complete 300 hours of community service, a sensitivity training program and hold a job. If she does all that for three years, prosecutors would drop the two counts of invasion of privacy charges against her. Three years is the longest term for a pretrial intervention in New Jersey; the most common length is one year.
She and Dharun Ravi, a classmate in both high school and at Rutgers, were accused of using a webcam to spy on Ravi’s roommate during his dorm-room encounter with another man in September. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, killed himself days later. The tragedy sparked a national conversation about bullying, particularly the bullying that can be endured by young gays and lesbians.
Clementi’s parents, cast as advocates for protecting young gays, said they accepted Wei’s agreement, which was approved Friday by a judge.
Ravi was indicted last month on 15 charges, including a bias intimidation count that charges he acted because Clementi was gay. That charge alone could be punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Ravi’s lawyer has said he is not guilty.
Wei, who wore a black business suit to court, answered only simple questions from her lawyer in a court hearing that was over in about 10 minutes. She did not speak to reporters afterward.
But her lawyers say she was a minor player in the case.
"Molly Wei should not be a poster child for this," one of her lawyers, Eric Kahn, said after her court appearance.
Her other defense lawyer, Rubin Sinins, said Wei has been cooperating with authorities since shortly after the September incident.
Clementi’s parents were in the courtroom Friday as Wei entered the program.
Afterward, his father, Joe Clementi, read a statement about her.
"We understand that Miss Wei’s actions, though unlawful, were substantially different in their nature and their extent than the actions of Tyler’s former roommate," Clementi said.